The iPod touch is the latest member in the iPod family. This means
that it is, in essence, an MP3-player. However, this particular MP3-player
can do a lot more than just play MP3s!
The storage capacity of the iPod Touch depends on the model; Apple
presently offers an 8 GB, a 16 GB and a 32 GB flash variation. If you put
medium-quality MP3s on it, that's a LOT-I haven't filled my 16 GB yet, and
there are 183 albums on it. I suppose that putting a lot of video would
allow you to fill it. Another thought is that at a cost of $1 per song, the
iPod Touch would cost around $5000 to fill up, or as much as a small car.
Another important thing for an MP3-player is the battery life: The iPod can
play up to 36 hours of music on a single battery charge (according to Apple)
This again feels a bit like overkill: If you charge it overnight, you
shouldn't need more than 18 hours or so. Video playback will last 6 hours.
Such a large battery means the iPod is not that small, especially not
compared to the iPod nano: it's 11 cm high, 6.2 cm wide and 8.5 mm thick.
This is approaching the size of a handheld computer like a Nintendo DS. It
weighs 115 g, which is considerable - you definitely feel it in your pocket. The height and width are similar to that of the iPhone, but the iPhone is a lot thicker.
The special feature of the iPod Touch is the touch screen. Basically, the
touch screen offers a menu, and by clicking on the icons, you can let the
Touch do what you want - play music, display the time, surf on the
Internet (provided there is an open wireless network with
half-decent speed- a big if), access your calendar, watch video, or
watch photos. Now, the bright, colorful touch screen looks really,
really pretty, and has a huge "WOW!" factor. However, a touch screen offers
no tactile feedback. This means that if you want to change a CD, you have to
get the 115-gram iPod out of your pocket, (pulling it out by the headphone
cord is both tempting and really bad for the headphones), press a button,
unlock the display with a sliding motion, tap on it several times, put it
back, and listen to a new song. Changing the volume just a tiny bit is just
as cumbersome. With an od Nano, you can just click the buttons in your
pocket. I vaguely recall those old-fashioned Walkmans actually had
a dedicated wheel for that, but I suppose this had to be sacrificed to get
the sleek look.
This brings me to the other features of the iPod Touch. As said, the touch
screen allows you to do a lot more than just listen to music. If you want
to surf the Internet, a nice little keyboard pops up. The only hurdle is the
fact that you need to use a 2 by 5 cm virtual keyboard with no tactile
feedback to type in web addresses. Perhaps this takes more practice than I've
been willing to spend on it. The fact that it acts like a computer also means it has other apps, such as a calendar and a world clock, with more available for download.
My general opinion is that it feels a lot like a great solution to a
problem that doesn't exist. It looks great, it has a motion sensor so no
matter how you hold it, the picture in the display is always up, the
display is bright, and it brings a lot of extra features. However, as an
MP3 player, it is quite heavy, difficult to control (due to the lack of
tactile feedback), and the advantages (really large capacity, really long
battery life) are not that important in practice (unless you insist on
bringing your entire music collection to a survival camp). Put differently:
for listening music, an iPod Nano will serve you as well, while being
cheaper and smaller. As a computer, the input is in my opinion just too
frustrating to make it really useful. Perhaps the iPod Touch is at its best
as a portable movie player; the display is fine, and there is enough space
and battery life to enjoy two or even three movies.